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Friday, 6 July 2012

Advice for a Gothling's dilemma?

This is an email I received many moons ago. I have edited it slightly to protect the young lady's privacy, but will add that she was having some personal struggles and that Goth culture had given her a safe outlet of self-expression. As such, I was hoping that some of you could offer further advice for her situation.

"Dear Amy Asphodel,

A shooting happened at a school near me and the person was clearly a Mansonite. My Dad thinks that Goths are bad. I've tried printing him out all your info, what the Lady of Manners (Gothic Charm school) and various other sites say. He thinks it'll lead me to devil-worship and such.

The thing is I've never been happier with myself as a person and I'm getting better grades and all, now that I'm getting into it even more into it. The style I have now is unique and me, because I took Corporate, Neo-Victorian, Lolita, Gothabilly, Punk and Medieval style and rolled it into my closet, I've kept my hair color, I make all my own jewelry.

He says that this cult of death (I tried explaining that we have no leader, therefore are not a cult - and yes we look at death alot, but it's in a continuting of another life/romantic way) He says and I quote "Evil skulks in the dark, and Goths do too." He's threatening to ban me off it entirely, and force me back into mainstream culture. But to do that would mean not just taking away music, clothes, and make-up. It would be sending me back into the Hell I was before, because my spirit feels that this is my true self. In my whole life. My grades have gone up as said before, and I'm no longer being bullied for being bookish and not in up-to-the-second latest trend, and such.

I'm finally happy, and he thinks I'm going down a bad road, just because of what the media, both left-wing and conservative are tell him. I try telling him Goths are more the Victims, I tried talking about Sophie Lancaster and other cases of people killed for being "weird." And he says Goths were resonsible for Colombine, and other shootings like it. At least he cares, right?

Will you help save my way of living and in a way - Me?"

Source

27 comments:

Little Black Car said...

I'm not siding with Dad here, but I don't think it's as simple as "my parents are quashing my individuality". Parents might be freaked out when their kids dress in black, etc, but they also don't want their kids to be victims. My mother would have discouraged me from doing things that might get me beaten up, too, not because she wanted me to be a "proper young lady" but because, well, she didn't want me to get beaten up! Dad knows he can't control the losers out there who might give his daughter trouble, but he might be able to influence the daughter to be less of a target.

Unless I missed it, the LW's age is not given here, although she appears to be a teenager. Without knowing more about both her and her father, I'm not sure what to offer. My parents would have been open to negotiation (and the fact that her grades have gone up, I think, should be in her favor). They might not have allowed me to dress exactly as I wanted while I was their dependent, but they wouldn't have cut me off from it wholesale as long as I was well-behaved, doing well in school, etc.

Bazinga. said...

I'm thinking: incorporating small goth things in each outfit, whilst toning it down for a while. Maybe this person's dad just needs time to adjust and see that his daughter hasn't changed anything about herself in a negative manner, in fact, that she's happier with herself more than she ever was.

AsylumAlice said...

It's always hard when parents react this way. Perhaps this young lady could come to a bit of a compromise with her father and tone down her look a little. Start with a black t-shirt and a black skirt. Then perhaps add some stripy tights or little hints of bats and skulls. If she gradually builds up and still maintains good grades and does everything she can to show that she is happy and capable of living life in a better way because of goth, perhaps her father will come around.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, she took the time to calmly explain to her father that their was nothing to be afraid of. Sometimes you can't convince to think otherwise. So my advice is tone it down and give it time.
Figure out what your father will and won't allow, then work according to those boundaries. For example, my father wasn't too crazy about goth either, but he didn't mind the idea of wearing darker colors, so I kept my look casual but used darker colors.
With time, you might be able to incorporate some new elements. If not, well, you'll have to wait until you can move out.
Until that time, remember this: he might be able to control what you wear, but not what you think and feel. So, dream, imagine and explore as much as you want.

Dani DeathBiscuit said...

Wow. This is really a problem :\

I'm sorta the same (with regards to the being happier this way, etc.)

But the fact is.. sometimes people don't change. We have to just accept that. You are your own person - nothing anyone says should get you down. There will come a time when you can put that all behind you and eventually your dad will accept you, anonymous stranger :)

This is a tough problem and I don't think anything I will say will change what's happening here but the best thing you can do is be yourself and to be happy being who you are. The only person you should be pleasing in the world is you.

Oana Olea said...

Bad people come from all walks of life. It's easier to generalize and say "goth is cult", "goth leads to devil-worship" or "it's all because of them goths". But that's just like blaming it on, I don't know, blond people. Or freckled people. It's just not a scientific criteria. Forensic psychology can explain most criminal acts and nowhere in the over twenty books on the subject that I read could I find "he did it because he was goth". More than that, being goth takes away most of the pressure that teens today feel (to be skinny, perfect, popular, fashionable, to fit in) and which is one of the cause of breakdowns. The subculture is most accepting regardless of color, dress size, sexual preferences or religion, focusing instead on the creative and intellectual aspect. See my latest blog post for more information that might help.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~ said...

Dear lovely dad,

U know i really love u, and i know u love me. That is why u worry about me

But i really need u to trust me, believe me, i love u, i love my life, i won't harm myself, and i love people around me

Love and accept others is what Goth teach me

Believe me dad, Love and Accept others is what i learn from Goth


*smile* *hug* i know u worry about me, but wont u want me become a cheerful, understanding, top student?

I assure u dad, nothing will take me (ur precious) away from u, just believe me, believe me i can show u Goth is all about Love, Accept Others and Express urself creatively

Love you

Merrihel Wednesday said...

Oh, boy.
I never had this problem with my parents- they think my interest in Goth is "cute"- but I'd suggest setting up a three to six month "trial period." Namely, he doesn't try to make her stop being Goth but instead watches her behavior and interactions with her family and friends over an extended period. He will see that she hasn't changed personality-wise, that she's happier and well-adjusted.
Also, I don't know her family's religious leanings, but perhaps pointing out that every culture is a mix of good and bad people, and what people choose to do (evil or otherwise) cannot be blamed on the influence of a non-religious non-cult group of people who simply happen to like the same stuff.

Cassandra said...

Would it help if you added a bunch of lunar or stellar imagery to your style? Then you would be celebrating light, not dark.

I'm honestly not trying to trivialized what you're going through. I'm just making a wise crack because I'm at my wits' end. I have no idea how to get through to someone like that. I'll roll it around in my head and see if anything occurs to me.

Brittany said...

If there are other goth kids she know, maybe one of their parents are a bit more understanding (make sure they are nice or this won't work)and perhaps they could try talking to her dad. Maybe having another parent who isn't part of the subculture who understands might help release some of his worry.

Nightwind said...

Timothy McVeigh was a Christian who thought of himself as an American patriot; yet, he blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing 168 innocent people, including nineteen children below six years of age.

Perhaps the young lady should mention this fact and then ask her father if all Christians should be linked to the terrorist McVeigh.

People of all stripes and colors commit crimes; yet, most of their peers remain law abiding.

The charges of Devil worship and all of that probably stem from religious fundamentalism. It can be hard breaking through those types of belief systems.

I wish her the best of luck with her challenge.

Lady Zendra of Noran said...

That sounds tough. I know this feeling and I honestly wish i could give you better advice. why not read the "undercover goth" post? maybe toning it down till you move out will help. I certainly do not condone or recommend sneaking around. However, if your father will not listen to reason try appealing to his fatherly side. tell him "if goth is so bad, then how come my grades are improving?" or try and say "I only like the fashion and I do not plan on becoming a satanist or devil worshiper." i wish i could give better advice. hope this helps.

Crimson Lace said...

My sympathies go out to this young lady. I applaud her efforts to try to communicate with her father however in this circumstance the only advice I can provide is to “wait it out”. When I started getting into Goth in 2001/2002 the stigma from the Columbine incident was still fresh. My father was not happy with my fashion sense and was rather vocal about it, requiring me to wear colored clothing when I saw his side of the family. An event that sticks out most in my memory was when we went to a get together at a theme park his co workers and their families had and I had to wear my sole pair of blue jeans and an old grey T-shirt I got at a hike. A decade later he is used to it. He even gave me a preserved vampire bat paper wait as a gift. Whenever he get’s something black he says that it is “my color”. My mom has always been supportive and even attended Bat’s Day in the Fun Park with me back in May. Dear miss despite you and your father’s differences, try the best you can to maintain a relationship with him. Best of luck.

Sophie said...

If it did not work to show your dad this blog and Lady Of Manners, maybe you could show him the older goth bloggers who are successful professionals, such as Trystan (CorpGoth), Mary (Le Professeur Gothique), VictorianKitty (Sophistique Noir), Sal (Still Dark@Heart), and myself. He will see that goth is not just an angry teenager thing, and that we are really happy people and that our lives are very similar to most of the mainstream: jobs, husbands, pets, homemaking, hanging out with friends, etc. and that none of us would scare little children away if they met us in the street.

恵馬 said...

My advice: Point out everything you said here-- your grades have gone up, you're happier, you stopped being bullied, you feel better about yourself. Also point out what has NOT happened since joining the subculture: you haven't joined a cult, you haven't become "evil", you haven't bullied anyone, you haven't met any people who would want to shoot up a school. He knows you, and he knows that you're not a bad person. Point that out. Ask if he really wants to send you back into the world of bad grades, low self-esteem, and alienating people. Remind him that the people who cause school shootings are usually people who both have mental problems AND feel like outcasts. You have finally found a place where you do not feel like an outcast. I don't know how he will be able to overlook the facts, especially the ones about your grades and your emotional health. How could he have not noticed the improvement?

Remind him that most people don't fit into the stereotypes that society assigns them. Not all cheerleaders sleep around. Not all jocks are dumb. Not all popular kids are mean. Not all nerds are socially awkward. Not all boys like sports. Not all girls watch chick flicks. There are PLENTY of stereotypes out there, and just because you may fit into a category or two does not mean you have anything to do with the stereotypes associated with that category.

I guess if all else fails, my last resort would be to not *call* yourself a goth, just be alternative. People who don't understand what goth really is won't know the difference, and maybe it's the fact that you label yourself with the big scary g-word that is causing him to have a bit of a mental block.

Pixel Pixie said...

Given that's tried to appeal to his reason and failed, my next suggestion would be to attempt to get another adult on her side. She doesn't mention her mother; if she's still in the picture, that might be a good place to start. If not, perhaps a grandparent or aunt/uncle? Perhaps even a teacher that will testify to your better grades? If you can convince them that this is what is better for you, perhaps they can get through to him.

I wish the young lady luck with her problem.

Bridget said...

*takes a deep breath to calm down*

This sounds exactly like when I came out as Goth. My parent's reaction was...not pleasent, to say the least.

I see that you've tried talking to your dad. Have you tried putting these thoughts into writing, like a letter?

I would suggest showing him bands like The Cruxshadows, who's lyrics deal with inner strengh, honor, and standing up for your beliefs.

Do you have Goth friends, or Goth friendly friends that he can meet?

I'm sorry that this is all I can think of right now.

Sophie said...

I think the best thing she can do at this point is let it drop, and get on with being a good goth with good grades, who is a happy and polite member of society - hopefully, given time, her dad will see that his preconceptions are wrong. The more she argues the point, the more he'll dig his heels in.

I don't see how he can ban her from being goth though, even if he takes her clothes, music and make-up she'll still be goth on the inside - and what's he gonna do, ban her from ever wearing anything black? Then go for a sepia-toned steampunk look, or become an all-white ice goth. Or rock a romantic goth wardrobe but in deep jewel shades. There's always a way :) just don't refer to it as Goth though, "this isn't Goth, Dad, this is victoriana/steampunk/romantic" - something along those lines ;)

My heart goes out to her though xxx

Gothy Girl said...

Even if you are forced into a mainstream appearance, you are still a goth at heart :) Hold on to that.
Unfortunately there are some people in this world who are so set in their opinions that the more you try to convince them otherwise, the more they are convinced they are right. It's sad that they are so blinded by prejudice. Remember that one day soon you will be an adult and in control of your own life. Until then, while you live under your parents' roof they have the last word. You wouldn't want to create a rift between you and your dad that can't be mended.

Anonymous said...

wow, I had this problem in my late teens. I don't think my parents ever really understood it. Someone told them it leads to drugs and depression and I tried to tell them the reason I was kinda depressed was the way they treated me like a freak, but of course, they did not listen.

The best advice I can give you is to try and prove you are still normal. Have family nights, watch crap TV with them, agree to tone down outfits a little to go see grandma, don't give up who you are but smooth the way. Show you are still a sweet, agreeable kid, still thier little girl. Because they will see you as an angry rebellious teenager and they will judge you as such.

I know it sounds hard but the WORST mistakes I made were constantly fighting with my parents over this. It just reinforced their idea that I was a horrible mean rebellious child who was ruining their lives. Show them they are still your family, and you are still the same person, just a little different.

Also I probably wouldn't bring up the Sophie Lancaster thing too much because if your parents think you are going to get beaten up for being Goth they will probably be even less happy about it.

Monster said...

Poor girl! It's awful when the people that we are closest to seem to reject us like that. I would suggest that she start with explaining to her father as calmly and politely as possible how his words and attitudes hurt her personally. Try not to sound too accusing or petulant; something like "It makes me feel sad and hurt when you say those things about me" might be a good start.
It might also do to point out that Colombine wasn't the fault of goths as a subculture. The boys who committed the shootings had a history of violence and arrests. The ones at fault are 1) their parents who failed to control/ discipline them, 2) the people who sold guns to children, 3) the justice system that failed to appropriately treat/deal with repeat offenders. The media tends to over-simplify and sensationalise such tragedies, and goths make a convenient scapegoat, and it's important to keep driving that point, and it should always be backed up with some kind of evidence.
She could point these sorts of things out to her father (which takes a bit of homework sometimes), and add that even though she understands that he loves her and wants to protect her, she feels as though he's "betraying" her by taking the same attitude as the media when they attack goths because it draws readers.
TL;DR perhaps it'd help to focus on explaining to her father how happy she is now, and how he's making her feel.

BatGirl101 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BatGirl101 said...

I've just read this and can not believe how narrow minded he is! Why don't you try getting info on other shootings and showing him its not just Goths who do these crimes? The thing is, if he does this then he is only going to make your relationship with him very rocky. He needs to accept the fact that this is how you express yourself and it makes you happy, self confident and better at your work. You need to show him how unhappy it will make you. I know were you are coming from about it feeling "you" and being more happy in yourself, I feel the same way:). Parents aren't the easiest to get on with some times. However its import to remember that he is just trying to look out for you and doesn't realize what he is doing, unless he can actually see himself.(if that makes sense) You could ask him to put his feet in your shoes, try and get him to empathise with you, try to show him the comments on here maybe? You could also ask to talk to a teacher at school and see if mediation is available. I hope that this helped! Good luck! ^_^

EpagomenalMotif said...

just do it anyway until he gets used to it.

Darling Violetta said...

Oh, this sounds a lot like me when I was a teen. This may sound awful to the OP but tone it down a bit. Make sure you get good grades, behave, and do your chores. For my parents they had to see that Goth wasn't effecting my life in a bad way. That took time but it was definitely worth it! Today they personally don't like my style but are respectful of it. This came about because I built a track record of being a good kid.

Now, this doesn't mean you still can't be Goth. Perhaps tone it down in the fashion department since that's the biggest issue for most parents. You can incorporate small Gothy elements into your wardrobe. Such as paring a black and white striped shirt or black band shirt with your blue jeans. And, as you gain more trust slowly incorporate more Gothy elements into your wardrobe. In the meantime you can still watch your Tim Burton films, pine over beautiful clothes online, read your Gloom Cookie graphic novels, listen to your tunes, and do other Gothy things that make you happy. Just be careful not to wave it in your parent's faces. As that may make them upset or think you're trying to be cheeky. I think being discreet isn't being sneaky but more so being respectful that your parents don't quite understand yet. Don't worry, they'll get there with time and persistence!

But most of all don't argue about it. Believe me, it won't make them change their minds. If your parents say something rude or negative about Goths don't say anything. I tried arguing over it for years and my parents only dug their heels in even deeper. And, it made them think I was being rebellious since I was talking back. Show them through your actions! It speaks volumes.

Sadly, I've heard stories from some whose parents never come around despite their good behavior. In that case keep being respectful and being discreet. Then when you get old enough to move out of your parents house or get your own money live how you want. :)

Morcega said...

I will say the same thing that I've said to the readers of my blog. Ask your grandparents if your father, when he was younger, have a dress sense that your grandparents don't like. Maybe if you remind him how his parents disaprove his dress sense and how he felt about that, and made him realize that that is the same thing he is doing to you now...it worked for my readers, maybe it work for you =)also, don't talk abou that if you see that your father is tired from work, or if you have visitors. That will make it worse. Another tips that I've given to my readers were:

-Try to make him realize that it is not the end of the world. There are a lot of people like you, all across the globe, it's not a just-in-my-country thing. If he get it, fine. If not, try to make him see what you mean, but very gently.

-Be careful about what I normally call "the year clash". Your father was a teenager in a "distant" year. Things are a little different now. Maybe in his time, he learned to see alternative people as freaks and as a I'm-going-to-steal-you-after-I-eat-your-flesh living nightmare. You know what I mean

-If he still not used to it, create your outfits with calm. For example, first, use a gothic skirt/pants, and during some weeks, that would be the only goth thing you will use. Then, you add shirts or acessories. You get the point. With a lot of my readers that worked very well =)

-Do your chores at home

-Get a good grade in the discipline that you are worst

-Show him that he can trust you

-Show him that you are always aware of what you are asking permission

-Make some concessions if necessary (do not want everything at once)

-Don't lock yourself in your room after a discussion, because your father can think that Goth is influenciating you to do this

-Go directly to the point, but calmly

-If he said "NO" try to convince him with good arguments, if you think that it will worth it (but if you understant that it's a I'm-not-in-the-best-of-moods kind of "NO", it is better to leave that conversation to another time)

-Communication is the basis of all!

But be carefull:

-Never respond with a violent or sarcastic tone (even if you're like me and have a sharp tongue). Try to control yourself even if he seemed not to get the point.And never raise your voice tone

-Explain your point of view doesn't mean that you have to argue

-Don't lock yourself in your room because this wouldn't help. I'm serious here

-No skulking

-Don't ever said that he don't understand you

I hope this tips helped. Sorry about the mess of this response, but I'm writing what I remember to advise =)

Anonymous said...

Tell him quite clear that you don't believe in such things as devils! Therefore you're not going to worship one.
And for the looks - keep it either casual, so it just appears intellectual (black polonecked jumper is the keyword), or elegant and romantic, so even he will be able to see the beauty and romance behind it. Just my two cents. :)

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